A section of family court lawyers from Pune have written to the Law Commission and Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily protesting against the recent inclusion of “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” as fresh ground for divorce in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Special Marriage Act, 1954.
“The rule will deprive women of their rights to matrimonial home and property. It will also rob them of their negotiating powers during matrimonial litigation,” the letter said. The decision was taken at a meeting of family court lawyers practising in various courts in the state. The meet was organised by Majlis, a Mumbai-based centre for rights discourse and interdisciplinary arts initiatives.
The letter has been signed by advocate Flavia Agnes, one of the founders of Majlis along with lawyers from Pune. Women in western countries where a similar law has been implemented are facing hardships despite contributing special non-monetary-returns by working as housewives and raising children, it said.
“There should not be a blanket rule for granting divorce under such grounds. The Law Commission is creating grey areas for corrupt practices,” said advocate Asim Sarode, a human rights activist. Majlis has planned month-long discussions on the subject in various cities in the state in July.
On the other hand, some like advocate Rekha Koratkar, president, Pune Family Court Bar Association had a different take. “It is not that a new ground for divorce has been created. The addition of the clause will speed up the divorce process in cases where there is no way out,” she said. Advocate Asunta Pardhe, who is also an activist, agreed. “ It will help several women whose divorce petitions are pending,” she said. The Union Cabinet had approved the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010, two weeks ago.